The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 11, 2013

Palestine native back from Afghanistan

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Faith and determination have been essential principles in the foundation of Army Captain Christopher Lee’s life.

After attending both Westwood and Palestine high schools — but not graduating — Lee’s hope for a successful life seemed it would be an uphill battle.

But with a will to persevere and the revelation of who Christ really was in his life, Lee, now 38, made a turn-around, earning his GED and eventually graduating from Texas Bible Institute. He even borrowed a snowcone machine to make money to earn the funds to attend the school in 1996. In the spring of 1999, he graduated from TBI with skills in servanthood and leadership that would change his life.

He enlisted in the Marine Corp in 2000, was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California and completed a tour in Japan. He left the Corp after four years of service.

Big changes faced Lee in 2004 and 2005. He was adjusting to “civilian life” and married his wife, Jodie Hicks, who had three children.

In 2005, he started college classes and a new job. Even though his plate was full, Lee didn’t think his military days were over. He signed up to serve in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan after three months. While serving in Afghanistan, he was inspired to become an officer in the Army, which would require full-time college classes and officers’ training. In May 2009, Lee graduated cum laude as a second lieutenant from Sam Houston State University. He was then assigned to Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

Lee was deployed to Afghanistan for a third time in April 2012. He earned the rank of captain in December 2012. He and his team returned stateside on Wednesday. Lee will be visiting family members in Palestine this weekend, including visiting his parents, Johnny and Dodie Lee.

Lee’s promotion will be official next week with the traditional pinning of his captain bars. The ceremony will be held at Fort Sill, where Lee, his wife, Jodie, and sons, Kanyen and Isaac will be stationed.

Retirement Celebration

A retirement celebration for CEO Bernice Carrell will be held Thursday at MoPac Employees Federal Credit Union in Palestine. Members and friends are invited to stop by for cake and to express their congratulations to Carrell, who is celebrating 20 years of service.

The credit union hired Carrell as manager on Jan. 18, 1993. Shortly after being hired Carrell relocated with her husband, Bob, to Groesbeck, from Houston. Since then, she has made the 124-mile trip to work five days a week.

When she started, MOPAC’s asset size was $7.4 million and had 1,783 members and four full-time employees. MOPAC’s asset size is currently $13.2 million with 2,500 members and six full-time employees. In April 2007, Carrell was given the title of CEO.

Carrell has three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson. She loves to travel and cherishes her trips to Europe, Israel and Italy. She also enjoys shopping and time spent with her family.

If asked, Carrell would say there have been many changes in the financial industry in the last 38 years. However, the one concept that has remained is credit unions are still “all about people helping people.” The motto and willingness to serve the members has not changed.

TSRR wins Award

Results of the 2012 Gold Rail Awards are in! For the fourth year in a row, the readers of Cowcatcher Magazine have voted the Texas State Railroad  as the “Best Excursion Railroad” in a six-state area. They also voted the TSRR  as having the “Best Excursion Railroad Theme Train” (Polar Express.)

In November, Cowcatcher Magazine surveyed its readers to recognize the best in model railroad and rail /rail enthusiasm in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Kansas. The Gold Rail Awards consists of 12 categories in total. Complete results of the survey will be published in the January/February issue of Cowcatcher Magazine, plus they will posted on the magazine’s web site:

Cowcatcher Magazine is published in Keller, Texas.